Plains animals refer to the small but unique set of animals that inhabit the Great Plains regions of North America. Living within this diverse ecosystem that faces difficult natural conditions including limited rainfall and harsh winters and summers, plains animals have uniquely adapted to survive by roaming the prairie grasslands and hillsides. Today, plains animals are increasingly threatened by resource extraction and fragmentation which has led to calls for preservation and restoration of the region. Plains animals include a broad variety of species from the iconic bison to ferrets, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and grazing animals.
Turkeys are a large game bird native to North America and can be identified by their fan-shaped tail feathers, bald heads and red wattle that hangs from their neck. Female turkeys are referred to as hens, while males are known as toms. Typically domesticated as a poultry food source, turkeys are traditionally famous for serving during festive occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Hyenas are cat-like carnivorous mammals that are essential scavengers within the African ecosystem. Living together in large communal groups (clans) of up to 80, hyenas are known for feeding on the remains leftover by other predators though they are also skilled hunters of wildebeest, antelope, snakes, birds, lizards, and insects.
Lions are large felines with compact and powerful bodies for hunting prey. Characterized by their yellow-gold coats and prominent manes (on males), lions are the world’s most social cats and live in communities called prides. Lions inhabit a range of habitats from open plains, to grasslands, savannas, and forests.
Male Length: 4’6”-6’6” | 1.4-2 m
Male Height (Shoulder): 3’4” | 1 m
Male Height (Overall): 4’2” | 1.3 m
Female Length: 4’6” | 1.4 m
Female Height (Shoulder): 2’10” | .9 m
Female Height (Overall): 3’8” | 1.1 m
Scientific Name: Panthera leo
Male and female Lion side (standing), front, side (laying down)
Bison, also commonly known as buffalo, are nomadic grazing herbivores and the largest surviving terrestrial mammals in North America and Europe. Once a symbol for the American Great Plains, vast herds of bison provided food, clothing and tools for the native people of the prairies. After being hunted to near extinction by settlers, the majority of bison today are raised in captivity as livestock.
Uses: Meat, hide, wool, dairy
Scientific Name: Bison bison
Bison | Buffalo side elevation (standing), front, back, side (laying down)
Zebra are a variation of the horse family known for their uniquely distinct coats of black-and-white stripes. Typically traveling in herds, zebra are found in many different habitats throughout Africa including grasslands, savannas, mountains, hills, and woodlands. Not unlike a fingerprint, the coat patterns on every individual zebra are different and are used as a form of camouflage that makes it difficult for predators to target a single zebra in a herd.
Scientific Name: Equus quagga
Zebra side profile, front profile, back profile, laying down side profile